Monday, 1 March 2010

90 Not Out

Last weekend was my grandfathers 90th birthday. Just ten years short of tonne, the old boys not doing too badly. Born John Phineas Thompson in 1920 and has seen and participated in some of the biggest events of the world. He has done his duty for both King and Country, and he has been a great father and grandfather.

Jack, as he is known best, was in the Air Force during World War Two and served in Papua New Guinea and the Island defending Australia from the Japanese invasion. During his time in the forces he saw many amazing scenes. I remember him recounting how he watching clouds on the horizon ripple from the shock waves of the exploding bombs. He also saw many horrors and sights that a person should not have to witness. Jack was on the cleanup crew for the crashed aircraft. He doesn’t talk about that very much.

At war’s end Jack returned to home and soon met and married Nelly Johns and together they had two girls, Judy (or better know to me as mum) and Helen.  Jack also returned to his job at NSW State Rail’s Cardiff Workshops as a fitter and turner, a trade that Judy’s two sons would also adopt. Over the years he worked hard and rose to the position of Forman.

While working at the workshop Jack took some time off in the 60’s and in a kombi took Nell, Judy and Helen on a trip around Australia. This was a very educational trip and exposed the whole family to a different way of life. At the end of the trip the whole family returned to a normal life.

Jack became a grandfather for the first time in August 1970. This was the first of four grandkids, then it grew to six. Now days he has 6 great grandchildren. Both Jack and Nelly were dedicated to their family and often have big gathering at their place. As family do, they move apart over the years and both Jack and Nell would spend their time travelling to see everyone.

Jack retired in 1980 and was very glad to finally have time to rest and do all the things that he had been planning. He fished, travelled, painted and repainted the house and had a good life. His long and dedicated service to the railways earned him a gold pass that, still to this day, allows him to travel free in Australia on the various rail services. He and Nell used the pass and had a great time seeing Australia.

After nearly 60 year together Nell passed away in 2007. She had been suffering for the last ten years and was house bound for most of that time. Jack was dedicated to her and did everything for her in her final years.

Now days Jack lives in a nursing home in Newcastle.  As he has always been for most of his life, he is king of the kids in the home and is known to all the women as Jackie. He is very popular with the ladies and they all want him around for tea or “coffee”.  He remains quite active and recently bought a computer and learning how to send emails and to shop on line.

When talking to him on the weekend he still has his faculties about him. He’s still quick witted, for his age, and gives back as good as he gets. I asked him what his philosophy for life was; he thought for a moment and said “Just Live”.

A great idea. He is 90 and still living a full and enjoyable life. He gets out of the home as often as possible and lives every day with enthusiasm.  Unfortunately some people half his age or more are wasting theirs. They squander their time of frivolous pursuits or waste it in front of the TV.  Just Live does not mean just exist, but live a life worth living. See the world and all of its glory. Smell the rose, kick up your heels, take and adventure and explore the world around you.  Make sure that when you get to 90 you can be proud of all that you have done.

Happy Birthday Pop. My life has been better because of you. I love you. And Just Live longer.

See you at 100.

Terry Shadwell

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